When it comes to the effects of cannabis, THC and CBD are usually the main topics of discussion–and for good reason. These two cannabinoids are well-known for their intoxicating (THC) and therapeutic (CBD) effects. But in reality, there’s much more to catching a nice buzz or enjoying the therapeutic benefits of cannabis than just these two cannabinoids.
The entourage effect is a phenomenon that has been proposed to explain how cannabis produces its effects. This theory suggests that the many different compounds in cannabis work together in synergy to produce the effects we experience when we consume cannabis.
This means that, despite their significant influence, THC and CBD aren’t solely responsible for the effects that cannabis produces. They actually work together with other cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other plant compounds to create the cannabis experience that we’ve come to know and love.
The entourage effect has its roots in research completed by Israeli scientists in 1998. When studying the endocannainoid system (ECS), researchers found that the presence of a variety of different ‘inactive’ metabolites and related molecules increased the activity of endocannabinoids like anandamide and 2-AG, two of the most important endocannabinoids (neurotransmitters) in the body.
Due to the molecular similarities between the body’s naturally produced endocannabinoids and the cannabinoids that we find in cannabis, it’s been suggested that cannabinoids are likely to work the same way.
It’s important to remember that there’s much more to cannabis than just cannabinoids, especially when it comes to the effects that the plant produces.
For instance, terpenes are aromatic compounds that give cannabis its flavor and aroma. However, they’re also believed to have therapeutic benefits of their own. Similarly, flavonoids give plants like cannabis their color, but they’re also believed to have therapeutic potential. For example, certain cannflavins are believed to have anti-inflammatory potential that is 30 times stronger than aspirin.
It’s not hard to imagine then how these compounds come together with cannabinoids like THC and CBD to produce more potent effects, like the entourage effect suggests.
One example of the entourage effect in action is what happens when THC and CBD are ingested together.
When these two compounds are consumed at the same time, the effects produced are different than when they’re consumed on their own. For example, the more CBD you consume alongside THC, the less intense the euphoric and mind-altering effects of THC will be. That’s because CBD has been found to negate some of THC’s psychoactive activity. This is also why it is sometimes suggested to consume some CBD if you ever feel too high.
Additionally, consuming both of these cannabinoids together allows you to take advantage of the therapeutic potential of both compounds. Many people find that a strain or product that is high in both THC and CBD is more effective for treating their symptoms or condition than one that contains just one of these cannabinoids.
Another example of the entourage effect in action is full-spectrum cannabis products.
Some people feel that full-spectrum and broad-spectrum cannabis products produce stronger therapeutic and intoxicating effects than those containing just isolated cannabinoids like THC or CBD. That’s because full-spectrum products contain every single compound found in the plant material they were extracted from, while broad-spectrum products contain most of them. According to the entourage effect, these compounds can work together to produce more potent effects than would be produced by just THC or CBD alone.
That being said, other people prefer the effects produced by isolated cannabinoids like those found in some THC-infused oils, some THC distillate vapes, or in CBD isolate. Ultimately, it is up to you to experiment with different strains and products in order to figure out exactly what is best for you.
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